Republican States Hide Health Insurance Exchange Work

It’s a tough time to be a Republican insurance commissioner right now, especially in a conservative state like Mississippi.  On one hand, the law is mandating that individual states show they will be able to run their own health insurance exchanges by November 16.  But with the Presidential election coming on November 6, some Republican party leaders are hopeful that the mandatory health insurance exchanges will go away if Mitt Romney defeats President Obama in the election.  By waiting to prepare a state health insurance exchange, insurance commissioners run the risk of Republicans losing the Presidential election and them running out of time to set up their exchanges.  If that happens, the federal government will run their exchange for them, which Mississippi’s commissioner does not think is in the best interest of his state.

Reuters’ Anna Yukhananov talked about the tough spot some commissioners are in in the article “U.S. state officials in stealth mode on health exchanges.”  Insurance commissioners in Republican run states have almost been forced to hide the work they are doing to prepare state health insurance exchanges because of pressure from Republican governors and other officials.  Some say that doing any work to follow the law of the Affordable Care Act somehow makes it more legitimate and they urge commissioners to force the federal government to run the exchanges themselves in hopes that they won’t be able to maintain the stipulations of the Act.  Mississippi’s Insurance Commissioner is under pressure from many organizations and political leaders not to organize an exchange, but he thinks it is better run by him than by the federal government in the case that the mandate is not repealed.

January of 2014 is the deadline for states to start running their health insurance exchanges, a mandate which hopes to help insure 16 million Americans that previously had no health insurance policies.  Thirteen states have committed to running their own exchange and seven states have said no way.  The remaining thirty states range from a loose commitment to establishing an exchange to the majority of Republican run states who have people working behind the scenes on their programs just in case they need them.  Insurance companies like Wellpoint, UnitedHealth, and Aetna health insurance would much rather see states run the program than the federal government because they know more of what is important locally.  While those in Republican states are under immense pressure not to conform to rules from the Affordable Care Act, many people don’t actually think Mitt Romney would get rid of the health insurance exchanges if elected.  It seems like it’s in the best interest of every state to at least have a plan, just in case.

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